Book Review - Rebel Witch by Kelly-Ann Maddox
March 26, 2021
I commend Kelly-Ann for the sheer amount of knowledge that she packed into this book. She does an EXCELLENT job at breaking down many of the experiences you will find yourself taking part in as a part of witchcraft.
Kelly-Ann gives a great recipe and break down for performing spells and creating your own, as well as the different types of rituals you can perform outside of the regular moon celebrations or the witchcraft holidays, things I quite honestly forgot about because I haven't performed these kind of rituals in quite some time. She's inclusive of all types of record keeping, including digital and regular lined journals, which does give a lot of options for those who don't know how to start a Book of Shadows or Grimoire. In this day and age many witches use their phone to take and keep records because let's be honest, we're on our phones or computers all the time.
She does a great job at going over Shadow Work, which is something that many witches are interested in but don't know how to get started with. She covers the what, why, and gives practical easy journaling exercises to start the Shadow Work journey, without condemning the witch if they choose not to take part in Shadow Work right away, or ever. Kelly-Ann does make a point that it is more okay, and even part of self-care, to seek mundane help outside of witchcraft and the witchcraft community. Witchcraft is not the be-all end-all or universal technique to self-care in the spiritual, mental or magical areas of our life.
While she doesn't actually call it cultural appropriation, she does go over the ethics of taking form other cultures traditions. She begs that you figure out and ask yourself why you feel drawn or connected to a tradition that is not yours. What are the themes or energies of these practices, and can you incorporate them into your practice in a unique way to you without taking from a closed practice.
Which is where the suggestion of poppets come in to her book. Poppets are inspired by the Voodoo practice of Voodoo dolls, without taking their specific practice out of its context or stealing from this rich and closed practice.
Some of the things that I found a little hard to digest was that some of the basic beginner techniques like grounding or other types of protection weren't included in the beginning chapters. It's written for a very specific audience and if someone isn't good at visualizing, they may find some of the exercises hard or be at a loss in their practice.
Kelly-Ann also mentions the rule of three, explaining that it come from Wicca but then proceeds to write that it can also be seen outside of Wicca. Personally I've never come across someone that doesn't practice Wicca believe in the rule of three. They have some belief of consequences to their craft but it's not usually described as coming back three fold, and I find this misleading and may confuse a newcomer to what is really the difference between Wicca and witchcraft.
If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you won't find the chapters about the wheel of the year very helpful, as she only gives the Northern Hemisphere dates and correspondences, which is most likely because she hails from the Northern Hemisphere, but Southern Hemisphere witches are always looking for books that include them and are usually disappointed.
Some parts of the book I have very strong, personal opinions about, particularly the mention of the Ouija Board and Mind-Altering Substances.
While I don't find anything wrong with using a Ouija Board, Kelly-Ann doesn't mention setting up protections before using the board, she only adds that some witches won't ever use them for its inaccuracy in which spirits or energies you might be inviting to the board. This unknown can be challenged by raising your circle or other protection wards, which she completely omits.
She mentions mind-altering substances that some witches might use during their rituals, and while there is again nothing with enjoying your wine or substance, I find this irresponsible to add in the book in this way as it might give off the wrong impression to a new witch that these are required. If it stopped at legal substances like marijuana or alcohol, I might not be as personally concerned, but Kelly-Ann goes on to mention mushrooms, LSD and other substances, which can lead to serious overdoses. I find that there wasn't really a need to even mention mind-altering substances at all, as these don't necessarily add to craft.
I understand that the whole point of Rebel Witch is to craft a personal pathway to you and that might include these substances, that would be something that the witch would have already been aware of. Which brings me to my final point.
I think the title of the book is misleading all on it's own. The whole point of witchcraft is to create a pathway that is your own, so I'm not sure what is considered "rebellious" about that action when it's common knowledge that that is what our individual pathways are all about anyway. I figured that this book would include out of the ordinary and unique ways to practice, not just a beginners guide filled with the constant reminder to make it your own.
While I may find some things in the book irking to me on a personal level, there is a considerate amount of information here. If someone was to ask me for book recommendations, I would suggest this but not until you've read a few other books, and add a reminder to keep an open mind as you read through this and make notes of the things that make you personally uncomfortable. That is something I tell anyone as no book on witchcraft is going to be 100% compatible with everyone who reads it.